MANILA – Gilas Pilipinas looks to ramp up its gear-up for the Asian Games as it will play two tune-up games during the homestretch of their short training camp.
Interim coach Tim Cone confirmed on Thursday night that one tune-up game will be against Korean Basketball League team Changwon Sakers on Sept. 22.
Changwon is no stranger to Filipino fans as the team played several preseason games in the Philippines, mostly against Ginebra.
In fact, the Gin Kings were among the teams the Sakers faced in their tune-up games when they held their training camp in Taguig last year.
This time around, Changwon, now bolstered by Filipino import Justin Gutang, takes on Gilas with a live audience at the PhilSports Arena in Pasig.
When asked why he invited the Sakers to play Gilas, Cone said he wanted to get a grasp of the Korean brand of basketball for the Asian Games this early with a possibility of a playoff game between Gilas and South Korea in play.
"They play the Korean style, so hopefully, that will help us prepare when we have a chance to go against Korea. We'll have a little bit of a feel 'coz Korea wasn't in the [FIBA] World Cup. We haven't played and scouted them in a while. That's something we have to figure out over the next couple of weeks," Cone said during Gilas' open practice also at the PhilSports Arena.
On a rare occasion, the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas brought both Gilas' men's and women's teams into the same arena for practice with a live audience watching.
They even let the fans interact with the players even as some fans walked away with prizes for just participating in a Shooting Stars challenge with the national athletes.
For the men's team, Terrence Romeo, Jason Perkins, Calvin Oftana, Chris Newsome, June Mar Fajardo, Japeth Aguilar, Calvin Abueva, Justin Brownlee and RR Pogoy were present.
Pogoy, however, was only in street clothes as an observer as he is still recovering from the wear and tear of the FIBA World Cup.
On the other hand, Cone said that the other four members of the pool, Ange Kouame, Mo Taututaa, Scottie Thompson, and reserve Stanley Pringle, were out for personal reasons.
Meanwhile, Cone also bared Gilas is finalizing another tune-up game inside its "Calambubble" at the Inspire Sports Academy in Calamba City.
"We're also gonna play one of the PBA teams in Inspire," Cone further said.
Pending a final confirmation, Gilas is likely to play Meralco in the said tune-up game.
Gilas will take the Friday off before heading to Inspire on Saturday. (PNA)